Bahrain army clamps down after bloody end to protests

Last Updated 03 May 2018, 05:59 IST

Protesters gathered during the day outside a hospital where the wounded are being treated to chant anti-regime slogans, while the largest Shiite opposition bloc said it was quitting parliament and called on the government to resign.

Concerned that events in Bahrain could destabilise the entire region, Arab foreign ministers of the Gulf monarchies were to hold an emergency meeting later today in Manama, Bahrain's foreign ministry said.

Witnesses said riot police stormed through Pearl Square, the epicentre of pro-democracy protests that have shaken the Gulf island state, in the early hours of today firing hollow-point bullets, rubber bullets and tear gas, sending hundreds of protesters fleeing.

Up to 95 protesters were wounded in the operation which was launched without warning at around 3.00 am (midnight GMT), opposition members and witnesses said.
"They attacked the square, where hundreds of people were spending the night in tents," said one witness, 37-year-old Fadel Ahmad.

At the city's main Salmaniya hospital, medical staff were overwhelmed as ambulances and private cars were still ferrying in the injured more than three hours after the assault began.

Relatives of the victims gathered outside the hospital, angry and weeping and while in the course of the day hundreds of people joined them, chanting "Death to Al-Khalifa" -- referring to the royal family. Others queued to donate blood.

Security forces deployed across Manama, with armed police blocking roads leading to the square and setting up checkpoints in other streets, causing heavy traffic congestion.

Witnesses said dozens of armoured military vehicles were parked near Pearl Square as the military warned of "strict measures" to restore security in Bahrain, where clashes this week have left a total of six people dead.

Bahrain's defence forces will "take all strict and preventive measures to restore security and public order," a defence ministry spokesman said in a statement.
The ministry also urged people to "refrain from gathering in vital areas," in Bahrain.
Interior ministry spokesman General Tarek al-Hassan said in an earlier statement that police had had no option but to raid the square.

"The security forces evacuated Pearl Square ... after having exhausted all chance of dialogue," Hassan said, as quoted by the official news agency BNA.

A US official said in Washington that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had spoken to Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa, urging Bahrain to show restraint over protests

(Published 17 February 2011, 02:44 IST)

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